Wednesday, December 30, 2020
|(Linda, with one of our great-nephews, Josiah. |
Note: my father made the music stand as a gift to Linda's sister Lora and her husband Grady,
on their wedding day.)
When I understood more about the kingdom of God I began to pray The Lord's
Prayer in a different way. Now I pray like this, because I believe this is how the early Jesus-followers understood it.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
MY BOOK OF THE YEAR
The most important, most helpful book I read this year is The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to Sexual Revolution.
Wow! I just finished it. I took copious notes, and am going to slowly re-read it.
This book traces the transformation of human identity into a primarily psychological understanding of personal identity as a state of mind or a state of feelings.
three of the RUNNERS-UP...
Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made everything About Race, Gender, and Identity - and Why This Harms Everybody. By Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsey.
This is a savaging, intelligent assault on Critical Theory. It's written by two atheist scholars. What initially caught my attention were these two atheist reviews.
My Payne Theological Seminary class is called Spiritual Formation. My main assignment is: set apart one hour a day, five days a week, for seven weeks. Use this time to pray and listen to God. Keep a record of the voice and activity of God in a spiritual journal.
Needed: listening skills, ability to meditate, and focus, to allow God to dive deep in your heart.
I also teach three philosophy courses at Monroe County Community College: Introduction to Logic, Introduction to Western Philosophy, and Philosophy of Religion. The ability to stay on task is needed to learn philosophy, and to think philosophically. A philosopher must have a great capacity to go inward, to ponder, and ruminate.
Spiritual formation and philosophy are slow cookers, not microwaves. Both, if attended to, produce lasting fruit in a person’s life. Oak trees grow from the soil of slow thinking about life’s big ideas.
Deep, lasting, relationships are slow-cookers, too. This includes the God-relationship. Knowing God involves more than theoretical knowledge, just as one learns to ride a bike by actually riding it, not by reading books about bike riding.
Kierkegaard told us that a pure heart, untainted by distractions, wills one thing. To “will one thing” is to focus on, attend to, be captivated by, be still before, one thing. What is the benefit of that? Nothing less, said Jesus, than the visio dei.
Blessed are the mono-taskers, for they shall see God.
Sunday, December 27, 2020
|(I took this photo of a woman praying in Jerusalem)|
To re-member something, literally, would be to "member again" that which has become dismembered. Parts that were once together because they were meant to be together, got separated, but now are rejoined.
When I pray I am often re-minded (I am mindful again) of something that has "left my mind." God brings something to mind, and I am re-membered.
I don't think you have to try or strive to re-member. Rather, as you consistently meet with God, conversing together in the slow-cooked prayer exchange, a re-membering will take place, by the Spirit. This has been, and remains, my ongoing experience.
This is good news, and provides an incentive to pray. All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put you back together again, but God can. As you pray God will put the pieces of your life and life in the kingdom back together again. (As some have said, to pray is to change.)
My two books are:
Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God (May 2016)
Leading the Presence-Driven Church (January 2018)
I am now writing:
How God Changes the Human Heart (summer 2021)
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
For resources on overcoming shame, go HERE.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Are you disturbed when someone dismisses you, or assaults you, on social media? When you get a "thumbs down?"
I've been upset when someone attacks me. If I did not live for the approval of other people, I would not die by their disapproval of me. I have to choose whose acceptance I will live and die for. (I am writing this as much for myself as for anyone else.)
Bob Sorge says, "Jesus was not touched by the praise of man, so he was not wounded by the rejection of man." (See here.) Sorge is commenting on John 5:44, where Jesus faces his followers and says, How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Thomas Merton once wrote that, when people praised him, he tried to receive this as a clean window receives the light of the sun. The more intense the light is, the less you see of the glass. However, some people receive praise the way a dog gobbles a chunk of food. I feel good when someone affirms me. But I am not to exist for the approval of others.
My two books are:
Sunday, December 20, 2020
One of the most impactful sermons I have ever experienced was at the first PromiseKeepers event I went to, in Indianapolis. The speaker was John Maxwell. He preached on "10 Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Temptation." After Maxwell gave Guideline #1 the place was electric. I felt, at that moment, that 20,000 men were ready to walk in total sexual purity.
John Maxwell’s 10 Guidelines (For Men) For Dealing With Sexual Temptation
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (1 Corinthians 6:18)
2. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY
"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Every time we choose righteousness, we not only become closer to God, but stronger in our ability to resist temptation.
3. BE ACCOUNTABLE - John Maxwell's list of accountability questions:
Are you spending time alone with God?
Are you in studying the Bible?
Are you praying?
Is your thought life pure?
Have you seen something you shouldn't see (movies, magazines, Internet)?
Are you misusing your power on the job? At home?
Are you walking in total obedience to God? (Remember, partial obedience is disobedience.)
Have you lied about any of the previous questions?
4.LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE
5. BE ON GUARD
Seldom travel alone.
When you have to travel, call your wife every night.
Talk positively about your wife to others.
Choose friends wisely. "Bad company corrupts good character." ( Corinthians 15:33)
6. DETERMINE TO LIVE A PURE LIFE TODAY
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
7. REALIZE THAT SEXUAL SIN ASSAULTS THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST IN YOUR LIFE
"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!" (1 Corinthians 6:15)
8. RECOGNIZE THE CONSEQUENCES OF SEXUAL SIN
"But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself." (Proverbs 6:32)
"For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life." (Proverbs 6:26)
9. THINK OF YOUR CHILDREN
10. GET A NEW DEFINITION OF SUCCESS
Maxwell's definition is: Success is having those who are the closest to me love and respect me the most.
Saturday, December 19, 2020
|(From Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry)|
(I am re-posting this for someone who asked. Someone told them that God affirms premarital sex. I think not.)
Before I was a follower of Jesus one of the things I wanted to do was have sex with girls. The truth is, I didn't have as much sex as some of my fraternity brothers did. Some of them were doing it left and right, and I only could look on with envy. My understanding was that this was normal. In a Godless universe as I understood it, who really cares?
When I entered the Kingdom of God things were different. In my new life I was told that genital intercourse was reserved for marriage. This radically different viewpoint made sense to me, and still does.
I do not expect this to make sense to someone who is not a God-believer, or not a Jesus-follower. If that's you, I think I understand. You are as I once was. Like, what's the big deal about premarital and extramarital intercourse? Of course it's no big deal, if there is no God.
In my fraternity one of the brothers had a little black book. The black book contained the names of girls on campus. It had numerical ratings from '1' to '10' next to their names. A '1' meant there is no way she would have sex with you on the first date. A '10' meant she would definitely have sex with you on the first date. My fraternity brother charged ten dollars to look at the black book, which was constantly being updated. Many of us, including me, thought this was so cool, because we wanted to have sex, almost more than anything. Girls were for our pleasure. If there is no Divine Moral Command-Giver, there's nothing wrong with that.
The Kingdom of God is different from this. God's Kingdom is upside-down compared to this. Kingdom thinking operates in the light, not the twilight.
I'm writing to any of you who say you love and worship God and Jesus and The Kingdom. If you are screwing around, why? In God's Kingdom this is unloving and unrighteousness. In their book Real Relationships Les and Leslie Parrott write:
In God's Kingdom, do not mess with this. It is the road to relational failure (see Parrott's book for the supportive scholarship).
I know others are doing it, but why care about what others think and do? Why are you using "what others think" as a premise to support an immoral conclusion? That kind of thinking is what created the mess you and I were once in. Choose your kingdom and embrace it.
Our sex-worshiping culture reveals that something has gone wrong. C. S. Lewis once wrote:
“You can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act—that is, to watch a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country where you could fill a theatre by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that it contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you not think that in that country something had gone wrong with the appetite for food?”
Look - sex was God's idea, not the enemy's. The destroyer of our soul works by taking things God made and then OCD-perverting them so that our love for the distortion destroys us from the inside. Surely the One who invented sexuality knows best how it is to be enjoyed, right?